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Chloe Swarbrick: Medical cannabis bill 'most progressive' yet

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 12 December 2018, 7:38a.m.
The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill also gives them a defence to possess utensils for using cannabis.

A bill that gives terminally ill people a legal defence for using illicit cannabis products has passed its third reading in Parliament.

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill also gives them a defence to possess utensils for using cannabis.

That defence comes into force as soon as the bill receives royal assent.

The National Party, which flip-flopped on its support for the bill, today called it decriminalisation of cannabis by stealth and voted against it.

National Party leader Simon Bridges hit out against the bill saying cannabis will end up being smoked outside of schools.

Green Party drug law reform spokeswoman Chloe Swarbrick told Kate Hawkesby the bill provided certainty and clarity to patients and their whānau.

"This is concerning people who are in pain and suffering right now. We have had an issue for at least a decade...where people have been seeking access to affordable and accessible medicinal cannabis products."

"People are facing the reality of either being put to debt or being turned into criminals as a result of having to turn to the black market."

She said it will provide immediate care for those who are suffering and ensure the market is regulated. 

"All this legislation does is essentially two things. The first is to create regulations, which the Greens negotiated to ensure will occur within the next 12 months."

"Those regulations will include people who are in chronic pain but on the other side of things, in those next 12 months we need a criminal defence stop gap for the people who are currently, unfortunately, on their death bed and resorting to using these substances for sake of that pain relief, so that's the point of the criminal defence for those in palliative care."

She said while some people don't feel the bill goes far enough, it's a huge step.

"What we ended up getting yesterday, was the most progressive consensus that we have ever had in parliament on actually creating law around medicinal cannabis, so I think that's worth celebrating," she said.

"Any movement on this, I think for patients and their family and friends is better than nothing right now, particularly for those who are in pain and suffering and have been waiting far too long...those who have been turned into criminals for using the only method that works for them."

She said people will be able to have their say on the regulations and restrictions. 

"We will be opening public consultation around the development of those regulations. So that will be focused on the licensing, manufacture, prescription, possession and consumption of medicinal cannabis products."

"So we will be discerning the types of people who we want involved in that market. Obviously, things like export and import but also who will be able to get those products from their doctor and what kinds of doctors or medical health professionals will be able to prescribe it."

 

 

 

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